Celebrating Immigrant Families: Frank’s Story
My name is Francisco Curiel, and I am the son of immigrant parents that crossed the border nearly 60 years ago in pursuit of a better life.
I am the youngest of four siblings, all born first-generation American citizens. All children of Maria and Jose Curiel. Both my parents were immigrants who came to United States in the early 60’s. The reason my father came to the United States was due to the extreme poverty he experienced as a child in which his mother was not able to support him. At the young age of 14, my father came to work on a farm with his father who offered to take him to the U.S. to pursue better opportunities. Coming to the U.S. allowed him a second chance that he did not have in his country.
My father went on to work as a blue-collar worker, often using his hands and maintaining jobs that were 12-15 hours long each day – for pay that is well under today’s minimum wage standards. Now that I am an adult I am better able to comprehend and appreciate his work ethic. This has shown me what it means to be the bread winner and what it takes to support a family. He also taught me an important lesson, which is to always give 100% in everything you do.
My mother came to this country as a teenager due to her mother’s passing. She moved to Los Angeles, in search of her father and brother since they both had previously established a life in the U.S. After finding her brother she met my father who was best friends with my uncle. They married and began raising a family.
Growing up, Spanish was our first language since my parents did not speak fluent English. It was not until we went to school where we learned English and were then able to translate information for our parents since their reading ability was limited.
My parents changed our lives by risking their own in coming to this country. When I think about my parents’ journey and the struggles they encountered, I am instantly fueled with pride, hope, love and determination. I think about our members and their young kids, and I see myself in their children’s eyes. I am reminded that I was once that child who had to translate documents for their parents. I was once that child who had hopes and dreams and whose experiences have lead me to better understand how important it is to give back to our community. It is because of people like my parents and our members that hope is possible.
The way I see it, the hardest thing any immigrant can do is leave their country and learn to embrace another in spite of how they are perceived or treated. A country that often times depicts immigrants negatively – ignoring the sacrifices they make such as leaving families and friends behind. When I look at the obstacles my parents and our parent members face, I tell myself that I owe the best of me not just to my parents but to every person that has faced hardships. Every person and family that strives for a better tomorrow, one that is filled with less hate and more love,” Amor a la Patria,” “Love of Country.” A country that provides safety, one that allows people to live in peace, and can provide opportunities to obtain whatever their hearts desire. One that supports families – that believes in families – and gives them the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty for good.
For the month of March 2018, LIFT published a series of stories that highlighted the power of parents, specifically those of immigrant families, as change agents. We asked our staff:
- As a parent, how do you hope to change your children’s life for the better? How does that compare to aspirations of immigrant parents?
- How did your parent change your life for the better? What if they hadn’t been there for you – where would you be? How does that compare to the risks that immigrant parents and children face now?
- Share a story of a parent who inspires you and is changing lives for the better
Read the complete series:
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